Readers, Book Stores, and Indies

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Many times I get Indie authors’ emails asking for advice on how to get their books on the shelves in book stores since many stores do not want books that have been self-published at all for book signings. So when I came across an old article talking about the bad rap Indies were getting, this made me reflect on the topic last week I decided to make it my editorial.

Maybe it is just me, but being an Indie writer never stopped me…I have been on many shelves in local book shops, Barnes and Noble, even Borders (rip) without ever specifying whether I was Indie or not. Many Indies have told me that Barnes & Noble have totally closed their doors when it comes to having Indie Authors over for Book Signings. So basically they are asking how on earth we can sell our Indie books. There is no short answer or magic formula for this question, so I will address it with another question. Do you realize that Barnes & Noble is just one store?

Another question comes to mind, do you realize that the readers that go to Barnes & Noble purchase books everywhere else too? Actually there is a big trend now of readers buying Indies and underground books as well. Their guide is no longer where they are sold but what their reviews look like. In fact most readers are truly enjoying this new freedom where what they can read is not decided by the big 5 publishers who publish only what they consider the most marketable stories.

I invite everyone to imagine a world without Barnes & Noble and research on each location you plan to tour for other book stores. You would be surprised on how many local stores are around. But go a little further, are book stores the only place to sell your books? Be creative when coming up with your target list and come up with other options such as Book Clubs, schools (for children books), even home school organizations are great, if your book is about fashion look for local boutiques…etc. Once you have a target list tackle each one methodically and professionally. Remember you are in the book business now…not just in the writing business. Here are some steps:

  1. Create different query templates to email to the events coordinator, manager, curator Association or Club Director…etc. Present your case showing the type of advertising and promoting the plan you have to get people into their venue for the speaking event or book signing. On your Media kit and sell sheet include your distributor (most of them use Ingram, Baker & Taylor and New Leaf for book formats). Also include a note that you can bring books too and can sell them to book store wholesale price.
     
  2. Hire a publicist to promote your event for local Media and to add the event on all local Newspapers and other media calendars, maybe you can try to find a radio interview on a local radio program while you are there. Be specific to the Publicist what you are hiring them for, get different quotes, and plan ahead to give yourself enough time to launch a small campaign on each place you plan to tour. Then do a Press Release targeting local media were the event will take place. The best results come when the event is combined by a special date (local or national) relevant with the topic of your book.
     
  3. Order enough books so that you can have them available for those places that do not order books through the distributor.
     
  4. Follow up your email with a snail mail package that includes Sell Sheet, Media Kit and a copy of the book sent to the Manager. Finally, follow up with a phone call.
     
  5. Last but not least, check out local festivals and attend as a vendor. You can do a Festival or arts and crafts show tour and attend a few in the same region as a vendor.

The fact of the matter is that it is up to the author to sell themselves and create a fan base in order to be able to create the enough support within the readership to keep you publishing. This is a true fact no matter who published your book. You will sell yourself and create relationships with venues and readers only by getting out there with a good product (well edited, attractive cover, good book design and production); as well as a professional, humble, and all rounded nice attitude for people to relate to you and buy the book. If the book sells and you are fun to host, venues will always welcome you back for your next event.